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I Didn’t Think My 10-Year-Old Needed A Phone But I Was Wrong

One day early last year, my daughter came home from school and said, “Lots of the other grade sixes already have their own phones.”

My reply: “There’s no way you’re having a mobile. You’re only 10! Why do these children have phones? Who’s paying for them? Are they looking at YouTube unsupervised? Do they have Instagram accounts? What has the world come to?!”

Then I wiped the sweat off my forehead and took a deep breath.

I’m completely useless when it comes to keeping up with technology. I just can’t be bothered learning how to use devices that become obsolete before you even unbox them.

Yes, I do know how to surf “The Web” and I am capable of “Googling” things (mostly “Easy carrot recipes” and “Weird lump is it cancer?”).

Did you get my text? (Image: Getty)

But if you said, “When was the last time you completely understood electronic gadgets?” I’d probably say “1986 -- the year I worked out how to record the radio onto cassettes.”

No, you give love a bad name. (Image: Getty)

I dislike how incredibly device-reliant everyone has become, and I really hate seeing children glued to screens. However, I don’t want to trade in my car for a horse and cart or wash my sheets in a copper.

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I can appreciate how handy computers are (yes, exactly, I’m using one to write this), and I have (begrudgingly) accepted that tech dependency is unavoidable. Which is why, six months after my “no mobile” rant, I did a swift 360 and bought my daughter a phone.

I had lots of reservations, though. I wondered if she would:

  • look at inappropriate websites/images/videos
  • get cyber-bullied
  • start socialising on screen rather than in person
  • exceed her data limit and rack up an enormous bill
  • become addicted to her device and never talk to me again.

I wasn’t convinced I’d made the right decision.

What has the world come to? (Image: Getty)

Then I realised that I’d overlooked a major benefit of tween phone ownership.

Last week, my daughter was invited to a sleepover party. Now, I’m not a laid-back, whatevs-style, free-range parent. No. I’m a classic helicopter. ALWAYS right there. Very much IN CONTROL.chu

READ MORE: Screen Time Is No Worse For Teens Than Eating Potatoes

I let my kids go to school, because homeschooling-no-thank-you, but that’s about it.

I’m suspicious of all people. I don’t care how nice and kind and lovely someone seems -- as far as I’m concerned, they might be a paedophile. And even if they’re not, they might still be lax with security and forget to lock their doors at night.

You say Lisa's mum puts milk on her cereal?  (Image: Getty)

My basic parenting philosophy: there’s danger everywhere. As a result, I can’t handle sleepovers. Whenever my children say, “Can I stay over at so-and-so’s house?” I reply, “Not until you’re 12. I mean 16.”

READ MORE: 8 Reasons Why Having Kids Ruined My Life

Have fun at Jimmy's. (Image: Getty)

So the sleepover party invitation was tricky. On the one hand, I didn’t want to make my daughter a social outcast. On the other hand, the birthday girl was not a close friend. I hardly knew her mother, and I’d never met her father.

The situation made me nervous.

That new phone was my saving grace. I said yes to the party because I felt like the phone gave my daughter a special kid super power -- the ability to contact me if she didn’t feel safe.

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She wouldn’t have to rely on adults to act as messengers; she could just tap her little screen and hey presto, Mum to the rescue. I know a mobile can’t guarantee safety, but it can give an anxious mother some reassurance.

All good Mum :) (Image: Getty)

During the sleepover, I sent one simple text: “How’s it going?”

The reply: “Good and you said I shouldn’t use my phone too much and be antisocial so my mouth is zipped from now goodnight.”

Which was just the answer I wanted.